Sunday, August 14, 2011

Food allergy/intolerance not taken seriously by restaurant server

You might be interested in our dining experience last night, at a high-end restaurant. We asked for the gluten-free menu options - this irritated our server – he was also a chef.
He said he could tell the people who were “genuine” (he did not elaborate on the secret of how he did this!). He went on to say that in his opinion: “most people who request a special diet are doing this to annoy the staff or to show off.”

He also said: “people should know what is in the food and not order the wrong foods.” – He did not tell us how we could find out what the chef was brewing up in the kitchen.
So arrogant. He has no concept of people becoming ill by eating (being poisoned by) the wrong foods. He was smug. Very disappointing to hear his attitude in the hospitality industry. We have a long way to go to educate these people.

You might have also come across this attitude. What is the best way to handle this?

Dr Rodney Ford


  1. Oh that is so sad and appalling. It is stressful enough to embark on eating out especially putting your trust in someone else preparing your food without ignorant lazy staff who refuse to take it seriously.
    I would walk out. There is no way I would patron a restaurant with staff like that.
    And I would write to or phone management to advise them.
    Then I would let as many people as possible know. What a ignorant idiot. grrr people like that infruiate me.
    Fortunately I have mostly encountered staff who go out of their way to be helpful. And I tell lots of people about them too ;)

  2. I have foodservice management experience and am married to a former restaurant manager, and I would advise speaking to management right away. Be as polite and calm as you can, but be sure that the manager understands the gravity of the situation. People can become very ill or even die if exposed to allergens. The restaurant may be liable for what the servers do, so it is in the manager's best interest to take this kind of thing very seriously. The server should treat it as a life-and-death matter, regardless of his/her (poorly informed) opinion. If I had any doubt that the food would be safe, I would also walk out, contact company higher-ups, and let others know about my experience there.

  3. that is startling!

    I might expect this sort of behaviour in a lower priced chain, and I have, in fact, been turned away from such places when they will make no effort or say they cannot tell me what is in their food (I am sure it is illegal in the UK to supply food without having access to the ingredient list).

    I now put the name of restaurants on my blog so that others can benefit from places I have eaten that are safe and helpful.

  4. I've had similar experiences. I never know how to handle it.
    I've been assured something is definately gluten-free, when it becomes painfully clear later - that it definately was NOT.
    I've had outright rudeness - eye rolling, sighing and huffing from a maitre d at a high end restaurant (we left)
    I've had someone go out of their way to cater for me at a function - but also make it clear to everyone in the room that I was 'special needs' and therefore something of a nuisance...
    I am almost afraid to eat out now.
    I do not understand what is so difficult about cooking a perfect steak (or piece of fish) and a salad. Sure it's not 'Cheffy', but hells bells!